This Week in devot:ee #37 - October 4, 2012

October 4, 2012
by Ryan Masuga

This week: thoughts on developer add-on pricing on devot:ee and the end of EllisLab’s affiliate program.

Last week's edition was missed due to some other deadlines, so I'm rolling what I wrote into this week's article. Sorry that I didn't put out anything last week. I don't want to get in the habit of missing our weekly post for any reason, so I wrote a little more this week to make up for it.

The devot:ee Premium

Last week, Eric Lamb (aka mithra62, twitter: @mithra62) wrote an op-ed piece over at EEInsider titled "devot:ee Economics" which sparked quite a conversation in the comments about how developers go about pricing their add-ons in the ExpressionEngine market. We have thoughts about many of the idea put forward in the comments in that article. We talk about the "price discrepancy" issue here all the time. Why? Because it makes us look bad. I'm not going to write a book here, but I did want to say a few things about it.

I processed a return last week. The reason for the return? "I realized after purchasing that I am able to buy it directly from the developer for $50.00." This was a return based not on functionality, but solely on price. This isn't the first time this has happened for this particular add-on. And this isn't a developer just trying to make the "devot:ee tax" of 20% back, this is an add-on that is marked up 24%. Twenty-four percent. For software. The last time a return for this same add-on came through, I got a separate email from the person who bought it accusing me (devot:ee) of trying to gouge customers by raising the prices on our site. 

Let's be clear: we don't set any prices on devot:ee. The developers do. One interesting thing about this? As far as we know, none of the top selling developers charge any different on devot:ee than they do on their own sites. With the exception of one developer who is based outside the U.S. and marks up the devot:ee sold add-ons to help cover a difference in currency - but that is nowhere near a 24% markup.

We don't set prices. We let developers have free real estate on our site, day in and day out. We let them have free use of our support forums (if they choose). Any developer can pretty much say whatever they want in their add-on descriptions. They can share as much or as little information as they want. At this time, we don't put any restrictions on how they price their add-ons. In our opinion, though, a 24% markup simply isn't cool.

Bottom line is, we're here to help make lives easier for those people developing add-ons for ExpressionEngine, and those developing with ExpressionEngine. We don't want or need to butt heads with either side. 

If any developers want to talk about this issue (or any other devot:ee issue) in person, the entire devot:ee crew will be at the EECI conference in Texas from October 15-17.

The End of the Affiliate Program

Yesterday, EllisLab sent out an email to members of their affiliate program letting them know that the program would end in three weeks. This was definitely a blow to devot:ee, as the affilaite program was one of our revenue streams for the last three years or so. 

If you'd like a little more information about this, you can read Stephen Lewis' article titled "EllisLab Bemoans Paltry 900% ROI" and two articles over on EEInsider: "Affiliate Program Coming to an End" and "More on the Affiliate Program."

I think nuking the whole program sends the wrong message and was certainly avoidable. If EllisLab was truly trying to only reward affiliates who brought new people into the fold, they're saying that they had no way to segment out who was a first time buyer as opposed to who was a repeat customer, which has to be totally false. They obviously know who has purchased before, because they have a volume discount program (but for how long?). Why wouldn't they whittle the affiliate program down to only pay out for those purchases made by first time customers, instead of killing the whole thing?

I don't have an answer to that question, but I do know I'm sad to see that program go. As EllisLab told us in an unrelated phone call weeks ago, devot:ee received the biggest affiliate payouts, month in and month out, hands down. So this move hurts us the worst. EllisLab stated that "Making this change will enable us to look at more effective forms of advertising as ways to reach new ExpressionEngine users and grow the community." I can only hope so. I know for a fact that EllisLab will now have a lot of money to funnel towards this effort every month - from devot:ee alone. Let's see what they do with it.

New Add-ons This Week...and last week!

  • Trans-Struct by EpicVoyage
    If you ever create a multilingual site with Structure and Transcribe, this little plugin should be very useful.
  • BugHerd by Tommy-Carlos Williams
    ExpressionEngine CMS integration for BugHerd. If your site is built using the ExpressionEngine content management system (CMS) you can now also install BugHerd on your site in minutes!
  • CE Variables by Causing Effect (Aaron Waldon)
    CE Variables is software that utilizes the template partials approach of ExpressionEngine templating. It easily allows you to set and retrieve content, manipulate parse order, and pre-process conditionals.
  • cpb Hash Browns by Curtis Blackwell
    cpb Hash Browns is an ExpressionEngine plugin that enables you to easily create an AJAX navigable site with little to no markup changes.
  • Global Member Vars by GDmac
    Global_member_vars allows you to serve content to your logged in members, without expensive entries tags being parsed for other visitors. Adds member and group id to early parsed global vars for simple conditionals.

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